The third meeting of our emerging network on safeguarding in classical music education was held on Friday 25th November at The Purcell School (with very many thanks to deputy head James Harding for arranging this and to the Purcell School for providing the venue as well as refreshments and lunch). Having an organisation which is at the heart of training elite classical musicians in the UK – and indeed internationally – offering to host this event is an important symbolic gesture about the sector taking a lead on this issue. Not only that, but our meeting was held in the Liszt Room, with portraits of 19th century pianist and composer Franz Liszt all over the walls as well as one of his original manuscripts on display.
Following the event on abuse in music education in September 2015 at the Institute of Musical Research, on 6th May 2016 I lead an event on abuse in music education for organisations from the sector, generously hosted by Trinity College London. This was attended by around 20 representatives from classical music education organisations from across the country, with four speakers: Anne Tiivas, Director of the Child Protection in Sport Unit at the NSPCC, Louise Exton, who runs a helpline for whistleblowers in sport for the NSPCC, Dr Liz Haddon from the University of York, and Professor Pamela Burnard from the University of Cambridge.. It was a very rewarding and thought-provoking day thanks to some excellent presentations as well as a high quality of discussion among attendees. Continue reading “Abuse in music education: institutional perspectives – event overview”
In September 2015, Lucy Delap (University of Cambridge), Ian Pace (City University) and I organised a half-day event for academic researchers to present their work to classical music education institution leaders on the theme of abuse in music education. We wanted to bring together researchers who were working on related areas, to start a conversation responding to the slew of high profile court cases around abuse in music education that had come to light since 2013 (see Ian Pace’s blog posts on recent and historic cases, as well as media discussions). We could not find any researchers working directly on abuse in music education – whether sexual, physical or emotional/psychological abuse. Continue reading “Abuse in music education: event overview September 2015”
Last Friday saw the third in a series of events on music education and abuse that I have been organising for/with the classical music education sector. The first event, last September, was organised by myself, Ian Pace (City University) and Lucy Delap (University of Cambridge) for academics to present our research around music education and abuse to the sector. At this event it was clear that the issues we raised required further discussion. As a result, I have organised two further events, partnering with Francesca Christmas at Trinity College London, James Harding from The Purcell School, and Ben Sandbrook, a music education consultant.
I have extensive notes from both of the last two events and will blog about the themes and issues that came up in later posts, but for the moment I have simply posted my introductory comments from Friday’s session, to introduce the events and subsequent blog posts on this topic.
It’s been a busy summer. As well as getting a new job, as lecturer in sociology at the University of Portsmouth, I’ve co-founded a lobby group and consultancy to tackle staff-to-student sexual harassment, exploitation and misconduct in higher education, The 1752 Group. To our knowledge, we are the only group in the country working on this issue, and as there is a great lack of expertise around this issue in the UK, we think our services are badly needed!
On Monday Kim Allen and I hosted a one-day conference on character education in the UK at King’s College London. We had a really interesting range of interdisciplinary speakers and the day concluded with responses from Janet Batsleer from Manchester Metropolitan University and Val Gillies from University of Westminster. A recording of their responses is available here, and talks/slides from some of the fantastic papers from the day are linked below. Continue reading “The curious rise of character education policy”
In January this year, I had an article published about Sistema in the UK, one of a collection of articles focused on critical perspectives on El Sistema. My article discussed the issues with using classical music, a cultural form which is both played and listened to almost exclusively by the middle classes in the UK, as a social action programme for children in working class areas. I argued that classical music’s pedagogies and practices form a close fit with middle-class norms and values, as displayed historically and today. I concluded that the aesthetic of classical music needs to change in order for it to become more inclusive, and that using it as a tool for social action for children in schools in working-class areas risks repeating ideas from the Victorian era of using classical music (and other forms of high art) as a tool to ‘civilise’ the working class.
In February, I met the director of Sistema Norwich, Marcus Patteson, in the course of my research for my current project into the BBC Get Creative campaign. He had read my article and invited me to visit Sistema Norwich, as he wanted me to see how they were doing things differently to mainstream classical music education. I was very pleased to take him up on his invitation and to have the chance to talk further with him about his work. On my visit I also met Steve Copley, who had been until recently the music director of Sistema Norwich. The three of us had a long conversation about their project before I went to visit one of the after-school programmes. I was particularly interested that Steve himself was almost entirely self-taught as a musician. He has now moved on from Sistema and runs Laboratory Music Media, a music education organisation that runs workshops and trains teachers in using new forms of music technology for improvisation and composition. He showed me a couple of video clips of sessions with young people using iPads as musical instruments, which looked really exciting and innovative, and he stressed the possibilities involved in teaching music using iPad technology, as it allows users to be musically expressive without having to first develop any technical ability. Continue reading “A visit to Sistema Norwich”